Virgin Nigeria, the new, fully private sector flag carrier airline for Nigeria, has announced that tickets will go on sale for its inaugural route between Lagos and London Heathrow.
The airline’s Chief Executive Officer, Simon Harford, who announced this in Lagos today at a press conference, said: “On Tuesday 28 June 2005 the first flight of Virgin Nigeria will take off. The day marks a historic moment for Nigerian aviation as the country’s new fully private sector flag carrier takes to the skies, with a weekly long-haul operation to and from London for the first two weeks, rising to three flights a week thereafter. We are also finalising plans for our opening group of short-haul routes within Africa, which will be announced shortly.”
Harford continued, “Virgin Nigeria has gone from conception to launch at a speed that is on par with world aviation standards. These first launch routes represent an historic first step in the journey that lies ahead of us. We are intent on building for Nigeria the world’s leading airline that is based in Africa. We are intent on building a wide network of routes across Africa and beyond. We are also intent on operating to standards that allow Nigerian aviation to hold its head up high around the world.
“Equally, we are intent on taking this journey one careful step at a time, to ensure we do not compromise our standards and our service. We hereby commit to our customers our promise of regular growth and innovation that will rapidly develop Virgin Nigeria into a sizeable, quality and respected airline. And we hereby commit to play a central role alongside all other stakeholders in the Nigerian aviation sector, with the common agenda that we all have to assist in its growth, in its pursuit of higher standards, and in enabling the sector to fulfil its strategic importance to the future of Nigeria.”
Virgin Nigeria’s inaugural flight VK281 will operate from Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport to Terminal 3 at London Heathrow Airport. The first flight from London Heathrow to Lagos VK280 will be on Monday 4 July 2005. It will begin with weekly flights for two weeks and thereafter fly three times weekly, operated with an Airbus 340-300 in a three-class configuration (187 Economy, 28 Premium Economy and 40 Business Class).
Chairman of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, in a message of goodwill to Virgin Nigeria, said: “Today is a momentous first step for Virgin Nigeria and we at Virgin are proud to be associated with this new Nigerian company. Virgin Nigeria is a fully private sector airline and is already a major employer of some 200 Nigerian staff, which number will rise to almost 1,000 within months. Virgin Nigeria is now on its way to achieving its goal of creating a new era of air travel in Nigeria which will offer passengers both value-for-money and the quality of service to rival the best international airlines.”